The hall was more-or-less packed out and, as a consequence, very warm indeed. No grumbles on that score, though, the band did their stuff in fine style regardless of the equatorial conditions.
Take a look at those lovely stringed instruments belonging to Tony Harris (no, not the Rame Peninsula's venerable jazz-meister, another Tony Harris). That's a beautifully warm-toned bouzouki on the left - made by a Devon based craftsman, so I was told. The guitar is another joy to behold. Envious? Me? Actually, not really, the noises I make on guitar are not too socially unacceptable, but I'd need to put some serious years of practice and dedication to make the transition to the sort of standard where instruments of this quality are worth spending out on.
"The bouzouki is a long necked lute developed in Greece from its Turkish roots. Originally 6 stringed, it now usually has 8 strings tuned CFAD. Irish musicians travelling in Greece picked up the bouzouki and adapted it for their use by re tuning to GDAE or GDAD. Modern makers started making them with flat backs Bouzoukis have a longer neck than mandolas, and are generally better for chords" (hobgoblin.com)
On to the gig itself...
...and above you see John Hymas on violin, the aforementioned Mr Harris bashing his bouzouki (ooh er, missus) and Paul Hutchinson on the accordion.
Virtuosos? I should say so. And very entertaining too with their mix of banter and good humoured stories adding to a terrific performance of mostly Hymas-penned pieces which ranged from simple folk melodies through swing and into the classical canon; often in the same piece.
I won't try a proper crit of the performance, suffice to say that if Hoover the Dog play anywhere near you I can't recommend them highly enough. Pay their website a visit and check them out on YouTube. In fact, I'll plop one of their YouTube videos into this posting - this is a tune they played in Millbrook last night called "Mr Happy", as performed at Lydbury last year.
************But now I'm going to have a moan. The band were great and nothing would make me wish I hadn't gone to the gig. But. And there is a "but".
What on earth possesses the parents of very young children to take them into a completely unsuitable environment in which they will get bored and start giggling and arsing around as young children do? The evening's enjoyment was marred by such a set of parents taking up the front row with their far-too-young-for-this offspring; the children's noise and fidgeting distracted hugely from the performance and, frankly, displayed a level of selfishness within the parents that I found hard to swallow. It ain't the kids' fault - they were tired and bored; it was way past a small child's bedtime and the music wasn't aimed at an infants' school audience. The kids were simply being made to be in the wrong environment at the wrong time.
I was not alone in thinking this, it was a major talking point amongst many as the hall emptied at the end of the show.
Another, albeit more minor, whinge: why did whoever-it-was on the village hall committee feel it necessary to make not one introductory speech, but two further separate and rather long-winded announcements? It was a gig - not a "community event" full of people trying to "do good"; let the gig speak for itself. I reckon we'd have got at least one more tune from Hoover the Dog in a second encore if matey-boy hadn't stood up and started spouting off (for the third time) at the end - telling us, amongst other things, to applaud the band - duh! That's what we were doing. We didn't pay to see you, my friend, we paid to see Hoover the Dog.
If you're going to put on entertainments and live events - for gawd's sake let the event be its own best advertisement. If it was good, people will come again. If it wasn't they won't. No speechifying or parish announcement needed. Simple, really.